Letter to the Editor: Giving away our great outdoors

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Dear Editor:
U.S. Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has proposed legislation that opens tens of millions of acres of pristine lands to corporate polluters. H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, is really a “Great Outdoors Giveaway.” Supported by our own Representative Scott Tipton, it gives corporate polluters and developers, who already have access to 76 percent of all national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands, access to even more of America’s vanishing wilderness.This legislation would end protection for around 60 million acres of public lands — an area the size of Wyoming. These lands are the filters for our air, the source of our drinking water and the last refuges for the great wildlife that make America special. They are also the roadless and wilderness-quality lands that attract tens of thousands of sportsmen to northwest Colorado every year to fish and hunt.Losing protection of Diamond Breaks, hunting unit 10, would be just one significant loss for Northwest Colorado. This is a very special trophy elk area, harboring a healthy population of natural age-group elk, which roam between Utah and Colorado.The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act (H.R. 1581/S. 1087) is radical legislation that would overturn decades of work and compromise between diverse stakeholders across the country. This legislation would take away balanced protections that have been in place for decades, including those for our most pristine backcountry. America’s tradition of managing our lands on the “multiple use” principle would be upended and these public lands would be given over to single-use corporations for private profit. Mining, logging and drilling are already allowed on more than half of our national forests and other public lands. This legislation proposes to open up most of the rest — putting drinking water for 60 million Americans at risk, compromising outdoor recreation and the billions of dollars in revenue it generates annually and damaging fish and wildlife habitat.Colorado’s roadless and wilderness-quality lands are what make this state so special. Unfortunately, a representative in California is proposing to end all that with this radical bill. The most surprising part is that our elected representative supports doing so as well. Please call Rep. Tipton and tell him that Colorado’s remaining wildlife and wildlife habitat is too important to turn over to private corporations for private profit and that the “Great Outdoors Giveaway” should be opposed.Dr. Allan Reishus Craig, Colo.